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The route for the 2015 Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) was announced on Tuesday. The prevailing theme? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
The closing 150 kilometers will be the same as the 2014 race, which saw the culling of long, flat sections in the final 100 kilometers. The race won’t go longer than 12 kilometers in the final 150 without a cobbled section or climb, making for tense racing in the closing hours. Last year, Fabian Cancellara won a rugged race blasted with wind and peppered with crashes in the final hundred kilometers.
The big Swiss was in a four-man break with Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Sep Vanmarcke (Belkin), and Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and none of them seemed eager to fight the final battle. The race may play out similarly this year, with the big riders waiting until late in the day to roll the dice.
De Ronde will again roll out of the dazzling city of Bruges, and hit Oudenaarde for the first time 100km in. Two hills have been added to the 2014 parcours — the Tiegemberg is new to the race and will be the first climb, and Berendries is the eighth crest, and is back after two years’ absence due to road work.
The main attraction will commence at the Koppenberg, which opens the door to the flashpoint of the race. The short, narrow, and steep climb is more about the struggle for position than anything, as a stressed peloton squeezes down and begins to think about selection. From there, it’s 45km to the finish, with the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg duo again at the likely at center of the winning move. Koppenberg is followed by Steenbeekdries (at 39km), Taaienberg (at 37km), Kruisberg (at 28km), Oude Kwaremont (at 17km), and Paterberg (at 13km). The field will hit the Kwaremont three times and the Paterberg twice.
Flanders is one of the sport’s one-day lions and hosts more than 800,000 spectators along its route. There will be spectator villages on the Oude Kwaremont, Paterberg, Kruisberg, Koppenberg, and at the finishing line in Oudenaarde.
The rumors are true. There is going to be a cyclocross race at Penrose Park Velo in mid January.
The race is going to be permitted on December 1st. Who ever thinks of the best name will get to race for half price. Spread the word. Post the best name by Nov. 30th
This was also shared on facebook in a few places. So there is the potential for lots of competition.
Even though 11 top-level WorldTour teams have signed on, six have not. Among them are three French teams (Ag2r-La Mondiale, FDJ, and Europcar), Spain-based Movistar, as well as Katusha and Astana.
It is hard to read between the lines to determine why some teams decided not to participate. Many teams could not be reached for comment, or, in the case of Astana, refused to comment.
“We are not rejecting the project, we just want to wait to see more details,” said FDJ’s Elisa Madiot. “[Team manager] Marc [Madiot] said the project was not very precise. We saw the same press releases that everyone else did, and Marc wants to see more information. We are not against it.”
FDJ’s posture of “wait-and-see” was echoed across other teams that decided to sidestep the potentially game-changing effort by the 11 teams.
Katusha, which is backed by power broker Igor Makarov, would not comment Monday when contracted by VeloNews. Katusha manager Viatcheslav Ekimov could not be reached for comment Monday, but told VeloNews during the Tour de France that they wanted to see more definitive proposals before signing on.
Others were more definitive. Europcar manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau told the French sports daily L’Equipe he’s against the idea, saying, “There is always the will to create a NBA-style professional league, and I’m against it.”
Graham Bartlett, who stepped in as Velon’s CEO, said it was more important to put the group into gear rather than to wait for consensus across all the teams.
“Every team has different objectives. We’ve got 11 teams, and that’s a critical mass, a number big enough, strong enough, to go out there and start doing things,” Bartlett told VeloNews. “You can go out and start doing things, rather than keep talking to try to build consensus — just go out and do something, then you can turn back around to those teams, and say, ‘This is what we’re doing, the door is open.’ We are still in dialogue with those teams, but we decided that, rather than wait for everybody, we would start moving forward.”
Teams cited other reasons for holding out. FDJ said its possible participation was complicated by the fact that its title sponsor is a national lottery, an arm of the French government. Any change in financing would require a complicated review by the French treasury, team officials told VeloNews.
Many were surprised to see that Movistar was not part of Velon. Team officials told VeloNews that they support efforts to evolve and promote a new cycling, but said interests of its current sponsor, Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica, don’t quite line up with Velon at the moment.
“Movistar has met and participated in all the groups, discussions, and meetings with the objective of bettering cycling and work for the future,” read a Movistar statement to VeloNews. “However, Movistar is sponsored by a communications company that clearly [relies] on audiovisual content and TV rights, so our possible participation in Velon must be agreed upon by our title sponsor, and this requires time and a thorough analysis of the situation.”
Another big player that was mum on the topic was Tour de France owner Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO). Company officials told VeloNews on Monday they would not publicly comment on the Velon’s kickoff party.
Although Velon officials spoke in broad terms Monday about the group’s agenda, some see it as a threat to TV rights, now held by race promoters. ASO is by the biggest player in the sport, not only owning the Tour and Vuelta a España, but major one-day races as Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Paris-Roubaix, as well as stage races as Paris-Nice and Critérium du Dauphiné.
ASO has indicated it has no intention of sharing its existing TV rights income with teams, estimated at tens of millions of dollars, and has resisted efforts to share those profits, or to create a new business model. ASO also points out that it already shares a portion of TV revenue, with each team receiving about 60,000 euros each during the Tour, totally more than 1 million euros.
Teams insist they’re not trying to take anything away from anybody, but rather create a strategy to share any future growth in the sport. One team source said, “the idea is to grow the pot, and share it more equitably among everyone.”
One idea being promoted is to tie together the entire racing season that includes all races in one TV package, with profits shared not only among races, but with a percentage also going to teams. Others would like to see permanent licenses, with rights to start all the major races, as a means to generate new sources of income by attracting investors.
Officials from RCS Sport, which own such properties as Giro d’Italia, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-San Remo, and Giro di Lombardia, came out in support of the group’s agenda.
“If done right,” Giro race director Mauro Vegni told Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, “it can increase the value and enhance the product we have.”
The UCI, meanwhile, was discreet in its reaction, releasing this statement to the media Monday: “The UCI has been in regular contact with Velon, and looks forward to continuing that constructive dialogue throughout the current reform process, and beyond.”
Velon went public just as the UCI is edging closer to a major reform of how the elite men’s road racing calendar will look in the coming years. The UCI is pressing for a tighter schedule, with fewer race days, smaller teams, and a short calendar without overlapping races. That means stage races could be reduced in size, including one-week races and grand tours. A more precise update of those reforms, which could be phased in over the next several years, is expected to be released during a two-day meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, in early December.
Those efforts tie in with what many teams would like to see; a sport that is more TV-friendly, with a stronger focus on teams, as well as a more compact season.
Velon was born from frustration from teams dating back more than a decade. Teams feel exasperated by a business model that relies on sponsorships to underwrite 95 percent of operating budgets, which today run well over $20 million annually for a major squad. Teams insist it’s unfair that TV rights remain in the hands of race promoters.
Whether Velon sets the stage for another major showdown between the sport’s key players, or if the stakeholders can sit down and reach consensus, remains to be seen.
The post Others prefer to wait on sidelines as Velon takes flight appeared first on VeloNews.com.
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Upon Monday’s announcement of the new Velon business venture among 11 WorldTour teams, several of those teams issued their own individual press releases, all using similar language, addressing Velon’s aims to “make the sport more accessible to all, to bring technology to the races, and to promote stable, credible teams that fans can support long-term.”
Rider and team management quotes on Velon are presented here.
Dave Brailsford, general manager, Team Sky: “Collaboration is the cornerstone to positive change and as such this is very exciting for professional cycling and a big step towards the sport reaching its full potential. The teams involved in creating Velon have come together with a powerful shared vision to optimize the sport and develop new ways for professional cycling to grow. If the teams unite and work collectively with other key stakeholders to make cycling better to watch, easier to understand and get guaranteed commercial support it’s to everyone’s benefit and will encourage even more fans to follow the sport we love.”
Chris Froome, Team Sky: “As we can see from official figures the popularity of cycling continues to grow. More people want to ride and as we saw from the incredible support in the UK this year at the Tour de France more want to be involved in the sport. With the development of Velon, it will allow the teams to work together and help find new innovations to grow the sport, keep fans excited and attract new followers.”
Luca Guercilena, manager, Trek Factory Racing: “The teams share a series of priorities to bring to the table of professional cycling. All eleven Velon teams believe a strong commercial entity representing them is essential to develop cycling. The optimism for the future of our sport in the group is telling. Trek Factory Racing is happy and proud to be a part of this project.”
Fabian Cancellara, Trek Factory Racing: “The teams have a story to tell and it is through a project like Velon that they can be sure that story is heard. The on-bike cameras were a first example of the soul and strength of the collaboration between the teams and the other stakeholders in cycling.”
Iwan Spekenbrink, general manager, Giant-Shimano: “With a group of teams, we have been working together for some time to improve the future of the sport. Together, we will keep on working on a credible and viable long-term future of the sport in which fans are more and more engaged. Last year, we have had already big success involving the fans, with the use of the on-bike cameras. With this formal cooperation, we will keep on working on these initiatives to involve the fans more deeply in our sport and give the professional sport of cycling a sustainable, long-term future.”
John Degenkolb, Giant-Shimano: “Last year, we saw already that the on-board cameras in the races were a great success. The magnitude of positive reactions after my in-race footage shows how valuable it can be to involve the fans closely in our great sport. Therefore, it is really satisfying to see that teams are working so closely together to advance the sport of cycling.”
Marcel Kittel, Giant-Shimano: “It is really positive to see that teams are working so closely together to advance the sport of cycling. By closely involving the fans in an open environment, our sport will be able to work further on their credibility and long-term future.”
Tom Dumoulin, Giant-Shimano: “By making the sport of cycling more accessible and easier to understand for the big crowd, it will be able to reach and activate even more fans around the world. The fact that teams are able to work closely together on this concept, makes it even stronger.”
Brent Copeland team manager, Lampre-Merida: “We at Team Lampre-Merida feel that working closely with other World Tour Teams forming one group, namely Velon, is an important step in the right direction to creating even more interest and excitement for the sport of pro cycling, not only for the stability of the sports future but more importantly for the fans”.
Jim Ochowicz, general manager, BMC Racing: “We have already made a difference, giving fans better insights and exciting views from inside the race,” Ochowicz said. “Now, we have formally come together to help develop ways for professional cycling to grow, for the benefit of those already involved and the growing number of those who want to get more deeply involved in this great sport.” Through Velon, the group will continue to work on partnerships with other stakeholders in the sport, including the UCI, race organizers, and the Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels (AIGCP).
Tejay van Garderen, BMC Racing: “Velon is a great way for teams to help cycling fans get closer to the sport they love. It will lead to new technology and create even more exciting racing. Cycling has also needed a way for teams to work together, like they do in other mainstream sports. This is a tremendous first step.”
Richard Plugge, general manager, Belkin: “This group of teams has been talking for some time about how to better shape the future of the sport by collaborating with all other stakeholders. Now, we’ve formally come together to help develop ways for professional cycling to grow, to create long-term stability for teams and credible and comprehensive racing. We’ve already made a difference, giving fans better insights and exciting views from inside the race. We want to bring the sport where it belongs, in the hearts and minds of the fans.”
Robert Gesink, Belkin: “I feel this collaboration is a great step forward. During the several races last season we have given the fans great images from the on-bike cams and our live stream in the Vuelta. It’s unique to see a great number of World Tour teams working together for the future of the sport, the teams, the riders and the audience. During the race we battle, but after the finish we work as a team for a better future of cycling. It helps building a better structure and financial stability.”
Wilco Kelderman, Belkin: “It’s a great initiative to have a transparent and attractive sport for the fans and stakeholders. As a team we have tried to give cycling back to the fans and create an upbeat future over the last few years. Now we can share knowledge with several World Tour teams to take the next steps. I already have given the fans an insight on Strava during the Giro, now we can work on greater initiatives.”
Stefano Feltrin, CEO, Tinkoff-Saxo: “The will and desire to change is clear from the work we have been doing for more than the past year with the other teams who are part of Velon. Together with the excellent collaborative spirit of all the founding teams, and the use of a commercial joint venture into which the teams have transferred valuable intellectual property, we have the right ingredients to create lasting change for the benefit of fans, riders, teams and other stakeholders in our sport.”
Michael Rogers, Tinkoff-Saxo: “Velon is setting in motion an interesting structure and unification of the world’s highest level cycling teams within professional road cycling. Together with the introduction of the latest technology, teams will have the platform to deliver thrilling experiences to fans from all corners of the globe.”
Bessel Kok, Chairman, Omega Pharma-Quick Step: “Being the main actors of the sport, this is an excellent achievement for our professional cycling teams to unify and work together in a common way, to defend and mutually increase their commercial interests in the sport. This new commercial structure will allow the teams to develop a range of commercial activities and create additional revenue streams other than traditional sponsorship.”
Patrick Lefevere, general manager, Omega Pharma-Quick-Step: “I am confident this can increase the margin of growth of cycling. The sport is growing year-by-year, and we need new and professional structures to be able to increase and defend our common goals. As teams we are competitors during races. However, outside this world there is a lot we can do together to gain more popularity and to become in the future one of the main sports, considering how many people love professional cycling and people who also use cycling as a recreational activity. The market is huge and this is the first step to improve and to enter into a new era for cycling.”
Mark Cavendish, Omega Pharma-Quick Step: “It will be important to make our sport even better, more understandable, and more marketable for people outside the cycling world. I believe that this kind of project is important to enlarge our fan base and to increase the awareness of our sport internationally, using, for example, technology as we show in the recent past with on board bike cameras.”
Tom Boonen, Omega Pharma-Quick Step: “I am looking forward to seeing what this can provide for the sport, teams, and the riders. It is important to create greater stability for the teams to give the new generation of cyclists a secure environment in which to develop into the stars of the future. It is exciting to see so many teams now working together to do just that.”
Jonathan Vaughters, general manager, Garmin-Sharp: “There has been a group of teams collaborating for some time about how we can, by working together, shape the future of the sport. Facilitating the use of on-bike cameras during racing was our first major step and now, as a formal cooperative, we will be able to continue to create even more opportunities to grow the sport we all love and make it more accessible to our fans. This is particularly exciting for our organization as we look ahead to 2015 as Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling.”
Andrew Talansky, Garmin-Sharp: “It’s great to see teams working so closely together to create an even better future for cycling; and bringing fans closer to the action of the sport we all love. This is an important and exciting initiative.”
The post Riders, team management comment on new Velon business venture appeared first on VeloNews.com.
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